LENT IV (A)
Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. – John 9: 3
In our Lord’s time, individual disfigurement or disease, or flaws like blindness could be the consequence of the sin of one’s parents or even for a future sin the person had not yet committed. Our Lord’s response to this idea was to say “No!” The Father’s love is unlimited. No one is abandoned or rejected by God – ever. God loves the short & tall, the thin & the plump, the young & the old, the married & the single, the bright & the retarded, the sick & the well, the blind & the sighted, the virtuous & the sinner, those who love Him in return & those who do not.
“A Circle of Children” is the title of a book in which the author Mary McCracken tells her loving story of helping children who knew only how to hate. It’s the story of a teacher with a listening heart who learned how to understand the private hells of emotionally disturbed children. She begins her book with a description of her first visit to a special school for such children. She says,
“… there was something strange about the children. It was not their bodies; no one was deformed. In fact, most were beautifully made. There was a translucent quality in their faces, but there was also something more, perhaps less: a stillness in their expression. These children did not call to each other or playfully poke or tease; instead they sat silently, turned inward.
“Suddenly the room became filled with noise & motion. Chairs were shoved to the edge of the room while the director thumped loudly on the piano. The children galloped in pairs around & around until suddenly one tiny girl broke away & flung herself to the floor, screaming high-pitched, indecipherable screams. Her small legs, clad in red tights, were rigid, spread-eagled against the blue floor. She pulled her plaid skirt over her head & beneath it screamed, ‘Vacuum cleaner. Look! Aaaahhh! Oooohh! Get it! Here it comes!’ She sat up, pointing to the door. Her terror was real: I felt it inside & expected to see a monster vacuum cleaner rolling in, sucking us all into a giant bag. But there was nothing, & gradually the terror dissolved …. Only her teacher knelt beside her, talking softly, touching her shoulder, her hair. The gathering her up, she held the child against her own body until the terror was gone.
“As surely as I had seen the vacuum cleaner, I felt the loving care that has displaced the terror. In that instant I knew that I would one day work on this school. I felt I had been here before. I was at home. The woman beside me touched my arm. ‘My God, Mary, I can’t take much more of this. Let’s get out of here … these children are crazy … Come on, let’s go.’
Mary McCracken stood on the steps of the school watching her friend drive away. ‘I too could leave,’ she writes. ‘I could get into my car, raise the white convertible top, & drive back to my safe suburban life …. I lingered a moment more on the steps – then I turned & went back into the school.’”
The rest of the book tells the story of the marvelous things Mary went on to do with & for those children. In the words of a distinguished literary critic, Clifton Fadiman: “We finish the book shaken yet uplifted, for we have watched how love & understanding, working together, can produce what once were called miracles.”
We can let God’s works show through us, just as they were through the man born blind. We can do marvelous things in God’s name. All we need is faith & trust in the vision He gives to each of us. AMEN!